Recently I have spoke to a number of people who have wondered why their websites are not ranking well.  Of course that is going to depend on a case by case basis, but there are 5 things I will check first before I give them an answer.  9 times out of 10, if they are not showing up for even their brand name, there could be more than just poor SEO to take into consideration.

1.  Check Your Robots.txt File

Go to and check to see if you are disallowing certain directories or even the entire site.  Regardless of what SEO you do to your site, if you are blocking search engines from accessing your site, they will not be able to index your website.

2.  Did You Get Penalized

Its quite possible that you could be getting penalized for one or many black-hat SEO tactics.  It is very unlikely, unless you are performing severe black-hat tactics, but you could also get banned from the search engines entirely.

Check For:

  1. Duplicate Content
  2. Mirror Sites
  3. Hidden Text/Links
  4. Cloaking
  5. Keyword Stuffing

Run a search in google for “” to see if your pages show up in the results.  If you see 0 results, then you site most likely got banned (unless it never has been indexed before).

3.  Check Your Navigation

See if your navigation and links are search engine friendly.  If you are using flash or java-script for your links, there is a good chance that those interior pages are not getting indexed. 

4.  How Old is Your Site?

If your website just launched it will be placed in the “google sandbox” which is a trial period where Google suppresses your rankings to qualify your site as credible.  This usually lasts anywhere from 3-6 months. Don’t get discouraged if your site is brand new, worry about gaining valuable inbound links and creating quality content and you will have no problems once you get out of the sandbox.

5.  Bad Hosting Provider

This happens very rarely, but if you are using a bad hosting provider, or if there are hundreds or even thousands of other websites on the same server as you, it can decrease your rankings.

I have seen where there have been other domains on the same server doing unethical SEO, and it has brought every other domain on that server down in the rankings.  Use a reverse IP lookup tool to see what other domains are on the same server as you.  For the tool I suggest, if you see other websites in red, it may be an indication that they are doing bad tactics.